St James the Great

Situated in the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this Grade II* listed church dates back to at least the 12th century.

About this church

The tower of the present church dates from the12th century. The Domesday Book refers to a priest in Cradley and to the Bishop of Hereford owning land in the parish. Although not specifically mentioned, it is therefore likely that there was a Saxon church on the site, and some stones with Saxon carvings are set randomly into the external walls.

Of particular interest to visitors is the historic association of Cradley church with Revd Thomas Bisse, Rector from 1713 to 1724, Chancellor of Hereford Cathedral and brother of the then Bishop of Hereford. He was instrumental in founding the annual Three Choirs Festival, which is now considered to be the oldest regular music festival in the world. The font (1722) and tenor bell (1724) were given by him.

The chancel was restored in 1867-8 by Sir George Gilbert Scott, and in 1869-70 the nave was restored, and the north aisle added, by AE Perkins. The east window (1872), by Hardman & Co of Birmingham, was given in memory of Thomas Webb, founder of the eponymous firm making fine English glass and crystal in Stourbridge, who spent his retirement in Cradley.

The St Francis window (1936) in the north wall of the Sanctuary commemorates the family of Revd Thomas Ayscough (Rector from 1892 to 1917) and is an outstanding example of the work of AJ Davies of the Bromsgrove Guild. It is of national significance.

The front choir stalls were made at the Morgan Motor Company’s workshop in Malvern, donated by the Morgan family, and have small representations of Morgan sports cars on the central feet. The cross above the sanctuary, donated by a parishioner, was also made at the Morgan factory.

The churchyard is very picturesque, with its 16th century lychgate and the village hall, a half timbered 15th century building standing in its south west corner. The church is open daily and visitors are always welcome. In its beautiful setting it is a popular place for walkers to stop and enjoy the free self service refreshments that we provide.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Fascinating churchyard
  • National heritage here
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Level access throughout
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets nearby
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

Other nearby churches

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Great Malvern Priory

When the priory was founded in the 11th century, this part of Worcestershire was a densely wooded forest, probably as remote as anywhere in England.

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Holy Trinity

Beautifully located rural church, opposite the village pub, with a separate 13th century tower, a 11th century rood screen and a 16th century chantry chapel.

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St Wulstan

Built in 1862, our church is located on the eastern slopes of the Malvern Hill, many visitors come to our cemetery to pay their respects to Sir Edward Elgar who is buried there with other members of his family.

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